I had yesterday planned out in my mind and very lovely it was going to be too….
An early start, with my silver-buying head on, to go to the Deballage (Unwrapping) at Avignon. This is a regular event run for professionals only to buy from dealers and I had finally got the necessary paperwork to be able to go. Then from there to L’Isle Sur La Sorgue for a walk around the antiques shops and galleries and perhaps an ice cream by the river, before heading back to the house late afternoon to carry on making a few more bits of jewellery before supper and Andy’s arrival today.
Everything started well … I was awake before the alarm and even had time to finish reading my book, before hopping in the car for the drive across to Avignon to arrive as the gates opened at 8am.
It was still dark when I left, but the sun was up by the time I reached Coustellet and it was all going to plan. Then about 2 miles from the main junction at Avignon the traffic came to a grinding halt and for the next 30 mins we inched slowly towards the roundabout. By the time I finally got to the traffic lights and realised that the hold-up was due to a broken down lorry, it was already 8.25 and any ideas I may have had of being one of the first through the gates was in tatters.
Pulling into the road that leads to the event I suddenly started to appreciate its size. The carparks were full, the roadsides packed with cars, vans and lorries and I followed others just arriving after being stuck in the ‘bouchon’, easing into a field by the airport that was being used as overflow parking and with some relief, finding a last spot in the chaos.
I leaped out of the car, made sure I had my buyers card and followed gaggles of other buyers towards the entrance, where as expected our credentials were checked by a Security Guard. But at least I was finally in and could get down to doing what I had come for, buying stock for the business, which was hard as I found myself easily distracted by the amazing array of pieces available and sellers from not only France, but further afield.
I soon got into my stride though, squirrelling out some particularly stunning pieces and relaxing into just being there, enjoying the new experience. After making my way around the halls I went to the stalls outside and suddenly realised how windy it was. The Mistral was hurtling down the Rhone valley, gathering pace and dashing between the stalls, creating clouds of grit and dust to cover everything in its tracks , with the soundtrack of pottery and glass falling and then being swept up by stallholders, who were clearly trying to work out how much profit was collecting in shards at their feet.
It certainly wasn’t a day for the faint-hearted, so I managed to do a tour of the stalls, before dashing back inside, hair whipped into a nest, to take a second look at a few stalls I had rushed past. Eventually I felt I had exhausted my search and made my way back through the dust storm to the car, now looking rather isolated in the field that had been packed a short time before, all ready to hop in and dash off to L’Isle Sur La Sorgue for a slow coffee and some much-needed food.
However life was not going my way and after several attempts to ‘blip’ the locking system the doors remained resolutely locked, to the point that I even checked to see if this was in fact my car …. the fact that it was the only car left pretty much confirmed that it was. Then came the sickening realisation that I must have left the lights on in my quick departure, draining the battery and leaving me locked outside, with all the assistance documents locked in the glove-box.
Various words came into my mind, coupled with a deep internal scream, before logic crept in and I remembered there is an emergency key in the fob, so at least I could get in out of the wind.
When we bought the car we had been sensible and had taken out the highest level of warranty that we could, which came with roadside assistance, so I found the card called the number only for a recorded message to say that it had changed. Time to hang up, find a pen and paper, call again and scrawl the number down then call the new number again, at which point the system didn’t recognise the number plate I was trying to give it and after the third attempt, when I was getting to screaming point I was passed to an operator. A few moments later they confirmed that we were covered, (great news) before passing me on to someone else, who then passed me on to a third person, who happily explained to me that in effect the assistance covers everything …. apart from a dead battery, explaining that they could send someone out, but we would be billed.
To be honest by that point, having been on the phone for about 25 minutes, I would have agreed to anything, however the chap then said that we may be covered by our car insurance and that would be free (hurray) with the added bonus that they transferred me straight through.
Within minutes I had spoken to the company, explained the problem and where I was and had been reassured that recovery would be with me within the hour. Nothing to do, but to sit and wait in the car being rocked by the wind, trying not to think about food as it was over 6 hrs since breakfast and my idea of a light lunch out had been dashed. The hour passed and I managed a detailed examination of the pieces I had found…
.. and there was no sign of the recovery truck so I went to call the company back, realising that as I had been put through directly from Renault, I hadn’t got a clue what number to dial.
After frantically reading through all the paperwork I found a number and true to form, having called them, they gave me another number, and after another call I spoke to an operator, gave the details and received more assurances that despite there having been a slight problem with the original call they would be with me shortly……
Cue another hour and yet another call with more apologies and the rather wonderful sight of a recovery truck finally appearing after nearly 2 1/2 hrs. Needless to say the mechanic was very helpful, had the car started in moments, completed the paperwork, discussed the strength of the wind and finally waved me on my way about 10 minutes after he arrived.
Abandoning the thought of lunch I decided to drive back to the house to give the car a chance to recharge the battery before I had to stop, arriving home and immediately heading to the fridge and absorbing, rather than simply eating, the food that was there.
Feeling slightly more human now than I did when I got home, I can see that in many ways it was a positive experience….. (I always like to look for the bright side!) .
I’m pleased it happened to me, rather than Andy (although if I’m being perfectly honest, it wouldn’t have happened if he was driving as he would have made sure the lights were off ……. but that’s by the by). We now know there is no point calling Renault for a flat battery and we just need to call the Insurance Company … we even now have the right number written down. We know the Insurance provides recovery, something we were totally unaware of when we took it out and thanks to the recorded message know that it even covers it in the rest of Europe, so at the moment we’re covered if we take it back to the UK.
And above all we know that I just can’t be trusted to do things when I’m excitedly focused on doing something else, although I have a feeling Andy and the boys have always known this is the case as I do have previous for leaving the lights on when I’m happy and off to do something I know I’ll enjoy. I even have previous for heading off to do a Craft Fair, realising I’ve left all the stock at home after we’ve been on the motorway for 20 minutes …… So it’s probably fair to say I have a brain like a sieve!
So the day didn’t quite go as planned, but it was another experience and life is all about experiences isn’t it ?
There’ll be plenty more chances for me to potter around L’Isle sur La Sorgue and there are worse places to have to wait for recovery than Avignon. I expect I will be ribbed mercilessly by Andy and the boys for a while yet and won’t be trusted to be out on my own without messages to check I’ve turned the lights off, but if I’m honest, it’s probably not without good cause!